Fair warning, this isn’t going to be an uplifting post. It’s not going to be witty, or dry-humored, or even charmingly macabre. No. I’m not in the mood for that. This… well this is the time for wallowing in my own self-pity. Time for that second glass of wine. Time for pizza on a Monday (okay, it was a vegan pizza, so I guess that’s sort of okay?).
For the first time in eight years, since coming to China, I feel alone. Just last week, one of my closest friends left Shanghai. She spent a decade in China and the last six years in Shanghai. And then poof. In the span of a moment and a black Volvo driving off onto the highway ramp, she was gone.
She wasn’t the first to leave. H and A left just last month. Every goodbye has been rough, because every goodbye has upended a part of my life here. I spent the last few years taking these friendships for granted. It was so easy to meet up for a dog walk around the French Concession, an Aperol spritz, a stroll to the West Bund.
And now, I’m on my couch, sighing forlornly like a Victorian damsel. Because L leaving was the breaking point. I have said goodbye to too many friends the last few months. And I feel broken.
Goodbyes are an inevitable part of living abroad. We all come here knowing that this experience is impermanent. After all, no one lives in China forever. But i had no idea that I would say goodbye to so many people so fast.
Every week is a new going away – a reason for party and debauchery, but also a bacchanalic way to cope with the misery of being stuck here during the intermittent lockdown.
Everyone leaving is making me close off. I am feeling that I am becoming jaded, mean-spirit, caustic. I feel like i am retreating into my own shell. I read 1200+ pages last week because I didn’t want to be around people. The thing is, this is the only way I know to deal with loneliness. I push other people away because I don’t want them to get too close. Lest I break down when they inevitable leave China too.
This is just bringing me closer to the inevitable. My time in China is coming to an end.
L leaving made me realize that this is not even the last chapter in my time in China, this is the epilogue.